Alloura moves in close; her frosty blue eyes the thickness of a butterfly’s wing separates her from the grains of dirt smeared across the prisoner’s face. “Nobody knows you’re here. Not even your cell comrades”. In that instant the long white scar running across his chest flares raw red. Again I have to ask myself the same question I ask every single time I interrogate someone- what are they regretting? Judging by the size of the scar it’s something he has regretted many times before but that could be completely unrelated to his comrades and their methods. I wish I could judge the ages of scars instead of long it’s been since the person regretted it.
“Were you told by your comrades to escape or was that your own choice?” The scar burns even brighter now; we might be very near the truth but we’re missing a vital piece of information. Whatever the information is will be the fact that allows Allaura and I to break him. Unfortunately the only information Sorrel could find is that his surname is Blaise and he doesn’t seem to have a criminal record yet he managed to escape for Interficium within three weeks of being convicted for murdering his landlord. “But your comrades don’t know do they. What do you think they’ll do to you when they find out?” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I immediately felt a thin red line forming around my mouth. I’ve said the wrong thing. Blaise just laughs- his bony ribs shaking painfully with each intake of breath. Alloura’s blank face only makes my scar lengthen curling its way around my lip like a venomous snake. I walk away.
“Have you discovered anything useful Carina?” Alain calls hopefully his watchful stone grey eyes which have been rooted to Blaise meet mine.
“I think he disobeyed his comrades’ orders by escaping but there’s something vital that we are still completely in the dark about.” Even though Alaina’s arms are covered by his thick fur coat I know that his scar created for regretting me join the Murmuration is lengthening. Being able to see regret is no match for Alloura’s ten years of interrogative experience, skills with a long sword and pale, delicate beauty which can be equally alluring and terrifying. On that first mission I had no experience whatsoever and because it had been rumoured that I had special powers I was left alone with the criminal. I asked none of the right questions and only succeeded in alerting the prisoner to my inexperience with weaponry. I can still picture the scene when Alain saw the prisoner holding a dagger at my throat; it looked as if a pool of fire was slowly spreading across his arm.
I see a flash of colour peeking through the bushes- the dull morning light dances off Sorrel’s hair the fiery red of the last autumn leaf. “Sorrel I need you to tell Carina everything you know about how Blaise escaped.” Alain demands.
“It’s not important.”
“Sorrel if you have information you need to share it with the entire meet and then everyone can judge whether or not it’s important. You can’t-’
Ignoring him she rushes over to me and whispers softly in my ear “I’m not sure why, but Blaise committed murdered because he wanted to be put into Interficium and something about his escape is really important. Good luck sorry I can’t be more helpful but I’ve got a source I need to talk to.”
On the outside my face has to remain an impassive mask but inside I’m beaming as I walk again towards Blaise. Alain asked me once how Alloura and I seem to make no progress for hours in an investigation and then suddenly the person will tell us anything we desire to know. I explained that every interrogation is different but there’s always a moment at which someone cracks, like the parting of clouds in the sky after a thunderstorm, all it takes is the right question. It’s impossible to guess the right question without the relevant information and that’s why Sorrel’s expertise are more precious than sunshine.
Sometimes I wish that I knew someone else with the same power so we could talk about it. I suppose it’s possible that I’ve already met someone who has because there’s no way of knowing after all I look, act and regret things just like everyone else.
Alain calls everyone to form a group around the campfire and I share Sorrel’s information. Alain as always throws the obvious question to everyone. “Right so what advantages could there be for being put into Interficium?”
“Perhaps he wanted to talk to someone. After all most of the prisoners are doing life sentences” Sixte pipes up.
“It doesn’t matter that the prison’s security is the best in the land it’s still possible to communicate with prisoners without having to get locked up.” Alain replies his gaze firmly fixed on Blaise who is in the next clearing. I used to wonder if Allaura felt angry with Alain for letting Sixte in on meetings and then shooting down his ideas but any protection she feels towards her younger brother is masked and as usual she when she speaks it is with incredible precision.
“Blaise let us capture him. If he’s able to escape from Interficium he could easily have stolen a horse in the citadel but instead he went on foot. He was armed only with a dagger and when faced with all of us he tried to attack Alain when Sorrel was the obvious target. We should be thinking about a possible benefit of him escaping.”
“A distraction would be the obvious one”
“But to distract whom and why? If Blaise wanted to create a distraction then why would he allow us to capture him because surely that stops the distraction working because Interficium guards will have stopped looking for him,” I counter.
“It would still be a distraction for the prison workers in Interficium because they’ll have to find out how he escaped,” Alain points out. I try and think logically about advantages of distracting high security prison guards. As usual when faced with a series of facts that appear not to make sense I try and imagine what Élodie would think .
“Distracting the guards would make it more difficult for prisoners to escape so Blaise evidently isn’t trying to help other criminals in Interficium. Perhaps he’s got enemies in Interficium who he doesn’t want to escape,” I respond.
“It’s a definite possibility. Right I think we should split up. Allaura and I will go to Infterficium. Allaura I want you to question the guards and prisoners in Interficium. Carina please will you stay here and try and discover more information from Blaise. Sixte you need to stay here too- you can use our absence to break in the new colt and if either of you break any of the swords in your weaponry practise you can pay for the cost of the messenger to inform me and the new materials. Once everyone has finished we all need to go to the Citadel so I can discuss our progress with the council representatives.”